Sometimes, investing the time and energy into a meal really pays its dividends. I know that for many people, time and effort are insurmountable barriers to recipes such as this one: but, honestly, if you just set aside the time for it, or enlist a little extra help, the satisfaction will merit its labour.
This recipe for butternut squash chilli is from BBC GoodFood, and makes four portions – although as always, I chopped and changed a few ingredients. You’ll need:
- 600g medium vine tomatoes, or 400g can of chopped tomatoes (I used the latter)
- two onions (I used a small brown one, and a bit of red)
- two large garlic cloves
- one red bird’s-eye chilli (I used one ordinary red chilli, and found it sufficiently hot)
- a tsp cayenne pepper
- a tsp oregano
- one bay leaf
- 600g butternut squash, cut into cubes (about two-thirds of an average plant)
- twelve pitted green olives
- 150ml red wine (I took the risk of using 90ml of red wine vinegar instead…)
- 1/2 vegetable stock cube, or 3/4 tsp stock powder
- 200g jar piquilio pimentio peppers, or 2 large roasted Romano peppers (or normal peppers!)
- 400g black beans (or kidney)
- small bunch of chives
- soured cream
It’s tempting to buy pre-prepared butternut squash – but I can testify that going for a whole plant is much better value: a 400g pack at Asda costs £1.50, in place of just 75p for the whole thing. You won’t need the whole squash – but save the leftovers for a curry later on.
Start by peeling and dicing the butternut squash. Mary Berry’s advice on this was to use a regular peeler if the skin of the fruit is ripe enough: but if you struggle to remove it, protect your digits by cutting the squash into rounds, and peeling it in parts. (I wish I’d read this sooner – I spent a laborious fifteen minutes removing the peel with a knife.) Make sure the squash cubes aren’t too chunky; they’ll take even longer to cook otherwise.
Finely chop the onion, garlic, and chilli. If you’re opting for fresh tomatoes, pour boiling water over them and leave for thirty seconds, before chopping in half, removing the skins, and roughly chopping the insides.
Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan, and cook the onions and garlic gently until soft. Add the chilli, oregano, cayenne and bay leaf, stir-fry for a minute, then add the red wine. (I didn’t have red wine, so experimented with red wine vinegar: it gave the sauce a good sweetness, but I’d be interested to know how it was supposed to taste!) Mix in the olives and the squash.
Simmer for a few minutes before adding the tomatoes, with 200ml water. Crumble or stir in the stock. Pop the lid on the pan and simmer for another thirty minutes, stirring every now and then.
Add the peppers when the thirty minutes are up. I used one green pepper in place of the fancy ones stipulated in the recipe; but I can imagine that they would have added a real sweet depth of flavour to the squash and beans. Season the chilli with salt and pepper, and leave for another twenty minutes, or until the squash is soft. Add the drained and rinsed beans, and stir through.
Serve with brown rice, snipped chives or coriander, and soured cream.
This was very satisfying and rich in flavour; the olives, in my opinion, gave it a special something. And it tasted even better reheated the next day.